Home > Asia > China > Christmas in China in the words of a Chinese student in France
Noël en Chine

Jian Jun is studying French in Paris (France). In her own French words, her vision of Christmas time in China is the following:

‘Christmas is a celebration introduced in China from abroad. It has more than a hint of religion in Chinese people’s mind.

In the beginning of the XXth century, missionaries and students returning home introduced Christmas celebration in the country. Some people adopted this foreign tradition and decided to celebrate Christmas. These groups mainly lived in either small towns located along the seashore, or in medium-sized or big cities.

On Christmas Eve, people used to have dinner with friends or family, sing Christmas carols, and dance. The faithful would go to the church and attend the midnight mass. Everyone could celebrate Christmas according to either his/her own nature or taste. Christmas ornaments decorating the houses mainly came from abroad. Christmas celebration persisted till the Chinese Cultural Revolution.

After the implementation of the policy enforcing reforms and conciliatory overtures, Christmas celebrations newly took place in the Chinese society. From sometime around the year 1980 until today, more and more Chinese people newly began to celebrate Christmas and New Years’ Day. However, Christmas time passed into tradition, being no more a foreign custom. Various groups of people now pay attention to this tradition. Stores will organize sales; shop windows are eye-catching; advertisements are affixed to the walls all around; and special entertainments and variety shows are proposed to the public. This is a good way for everybody to earn more money between Christmas time and New Year’s Day.

Also, trees along the streets are decorated. Some families will ornament their home door or their windows with Christmas decorations and add typical Chinese decorations. On Christmas Day the Chinese meal is not quite different from the daily meal; people will sometimes just eat one more salad.

What will be Chistmas time’s future in China? Only the coming years will provide an answer to the question.’

Jian Jun

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